Calling All Leaders: Start a Book Club

Three years ago, I attended our annual International Conference. One of the breakout sessions had a speaker whose name, unfortunately, I cannot remember.  He discussed, however, how he utilized a “book club” to help develop his company’s culture, which stayed with me. He explained the details of how to implement a book club, citing examples of books to read and including basic guidelines for everyone to follow. 

I must confess; I do not enjoy reading books! I prefer audiobooks, podcasts, and videos, but this concept of starting a book club with my leadership team was intriguing.  At our next meeting, I presented the idea. We then selected our first book, “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” by John Maxwell and set a meeting to recur weekly. 

Each week, we would read a chapter, and discuss key takeaways and how we could implement that week’s “Irrefutable Law.” Over time, it became apparent that the group's enthusiasm for the book was starting to dwindle, and the group felt that it was just taking too long to complete the book. As a side note, I would recommend that you not tackle a book chapter by chapter, but instead cover multiple sections each week to keep up the momentum and excitement for the book. 

After several months of going chapter by chapter and discussing all 21 laws, we debriefed on how we felt the book club was working for the group. As a group, we all agreed that pace was too slow, we spent too much time on the book, and the team wanted to add video, white papers, articles and podcasts to the mix.  The group had just transformed our “book club” into a “multimedia club,” and we also decided that each week a different person would be responsible to pick the topic, provide talking points and lead the discussion.   

I recently sat down with my team and asked them two questions:  

  • What value did the “Multimedia Club” bring to our leadership team?
  • What advice would you give to someone who wanted to start their own “Book” or “Multimedia Club”?

Here is a summary of their answers to the two questions: 

What value did the “Multimedia Club” bring to our leadership team? 

  • Provided an opportunity to learn from each other in a safe and collaborative environment. 
  • Created a deeper understanding of what motivates each leader and how they approach different workplace scenarios.
  • Uncovered different perspectives and approaches to complex issues.
  • Helped identify skills gaps and areas for the team to grow. 
  • Provided an opportunity for leaders from different departments to build stronger relationships and foster the right culture. 
  • Allowed each leader the opportunity to be vulnerable and empathetic to others as they talk openly about their challenges and insecurities as a leader. 

 What advice would you give to someone who wanted to start their own “Book” or “Multimedia Club”? 

  • Create and document the rules of your “Multimedia Club,” so as you invite members to join, they understand what the expectations are for each person participating.
  • Provide each person attending the opportunity to select a topic for discussion, talking points and leading the discussion.
  • Encourage the use of video, podcasts, magazine articles, blog articles, white papers and books to keep the sessions 
  • Make sure to send out the topics and required materials at least five days in advance to give everyone plenty of time to prepare for the weekly discussion.
  • Invite a diverse set of people from your organization.  The group should represent people from different backgrounds, cultures, job roles and departments.
  • Ensure that it is a “judgment-free” zone; everyone must come with an open mind and willingness to learn.

Closing Thoughts

I hope that this article will inspire you and your team to start your own “Multimedia” or “Book Club” within your organization.  If you do start one or if you already participate in one, we would love to hear your feedback and ideas. 

Lastly, this article was a collaboration between all the fantastic leaders that participate in our weekly “Multimedia Club.”  I want to thank Alissa Jelley, Carlinde Kallianiotis, Tania Sones, Andrea Reynolds, Melissa Antrobus, Anne Gambina, Eryne Busch, Eric Oldendorf, Jamie Sangiorgio, Ellen Bradley and Brian Zibricky for helping write this article and create an environment for each of us to grow and learn from one another.

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NH Learning SolutionsCindy Velazquez

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